Mahalia Jackson’s vibrant gospel singing uplifted thousands of WDIA-AM listeners in Memphis, Tenn., back in the day. I was reminded of that when I saw the talented Ledisi portray Jackson in “Selma.”
In the movie, Ledisi sang "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," which Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. frequently asked Jackson to sing during the battle for civil rights. Ledisi’s “Selma” performance has awakened interest in Jackson and her music, rightly so.
I remember hearing Jackson’s singing on WDIA, the first radio station in America with an all-black format, when my late father, Prince Whiting Jr., used it as a get-up-and-go-to-Sunday-School-alarm-clock. As a child growing up in Memphis, I did not know the extent of Jackson’s dynamic contribution to history or that the “Queen of Gospel Singing” recorded work composed by Memphis pastor Rev. William H. Brewster and Chicago composer Thomas A. Dorsey, among others.
According to Women'sHistoryMonth.gov, "The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society."
You can read more about Jackson's legacy in the resources below. Check out my previous Women's History Month blog posts.
What's your favorite Mahalia Jackson song?
New Mahalia Jackson Biopic to be Filmed in Chicago
Mahalia Jackson: The Library of Congress
TV One: Ledisi Dishes On Selma, Readies For Hello Beautiful’s ‘Interludes Live’
Snubbed by Grammy telecast, Ledisi keeps her head up
The Mahalia Jackson Story's Facebook Page
Mahalia Jackson: Historyswomen.com
"Imitation of Life" FAQ
Mahalia Jackson Quotes
NPR: Mahalia Jackson